Oh, I appear in it - I don't think I can watch it. A big thank you and huge respect for Liz and Sarah for speaking out. Having been privy to - and part of - the behind the scenes action (I'm on the front lines here in Korea ;)), I can assure you their bravery goes beyond what you can gleam from the report. And it was wonderful seeing Ros again, albeit on TV. What a shining light she is.
I just caught the opening spiel. Providence/JMS said they have nothing to hide? Ha!
Just one thing. The criminal history of the group didn't really come out, and Jeong's fugitive years were skipped over. You can get the low down here. (http://jmscult.com/forum/index.php?topic=77.msg2196#msg2196) The whole story would need a mini-series to tell it all, and even then parts would be left out.
And a big thank you to Joel Tozer who put in tons of hours on this. I first heard from him back in early January about this story. After reading his initial email inquiry on my phone that morning, I jumped out of bed and sent him a 1,000-word reply complete with about 50 links and about 100 typos. :) There was one casualty though: my huge JMSCult YouTube channel that had about 50 hours of Jeong's video sermons given while he was a fugitive. But it was worth it to see JMS react to the prospect of - gasp shock horror - media interest. Another positive: the threats I received from JMS resulted in me seeking legal advice that has resulted in a more secure, if slightly smaller, site. And those threats did wonders for my motivation.
A transcript with photos is available here. (http://www.sbs.com.au/thefeed/blog/2014/04/09/inside-providence-secretive-korean-church-led-convicted-rapist)
I was having a bad hair day that day. It was windy and freezing!^^ All up the filming of my segments took 6 hours, and I was absolutely wrecked by the end of it. The cameraman, who would prefer to remain anonymous, was fun to work with.
"Walk up the street, stop, and then stare off into the distance with a determined look on your face."
My first reaction was :o, but then I gave it a go.
And SBS has on its site extracts of correspondence between SBS and JMS's spokesperson. (http://tinyurl.com/nc57zj5) It makes for an interesting read ;). Unfortunately, the threats to sue JMS sent to SBS were not included.
A great resource for those who may have recently left the group too, as it can really reassure you that you made a wise and balanced decision, which is quote obviously the right decision.
Bravo to those girls who shared their story too, as I know from personal experience that it requires a lot of courage! So well done to them!
SBS did a good job, and I wonder how much JMS will now try and bully them.
I'm new to the JMS horror. I'm activist against a small scale Australian version called Universal Medicine, which is led by a sexual predator. I've had the misfortune of being in a treatment room with him.
The group has a large membership of women, and a secretive culture of molestation. Members send their little girls to stay in the leader's home.
I mention these things because the similarities to JMS are chilliing. As an anti-cult activist I appreciate the difficulty in getting media coverage, let alone authorities to act on the cult's abuses. Every time a media organization reports on UM they are bombarded with letters from cult members whining about media bias, and how in reporting wrongdoing, they've missed the 'real story' of all the wonderful things the cult does. Some smaller publications won't print more stories because it's not worth the bullying and pseudo-legal threats. So I appreciate it takes a motivated and dedicated producer to air these stories.
Congratulations to Liz and Sarah on their courage in coming forward. As Peter says, it's much more difficult than it would appear in the report. I don't hold much hope for UM's victims coming forward due to the level of bullying exerted by the cult's hierarchy of bitches. Liz and Sarah, I'm glad you're free and I hope you're okay. Your speaking out will help other victims. Well done.
Also, from one cult basher to another, good onya Peter. You've put in a humungous amount of work!
Finally, I was horrified to read in the SBS correspondence JMS runs tax exempt charity fronts in Australia. That really needs investigation. Unfortunately the
Abbott government is planning to abolish the Australian Charity Commission (ACNC) - but that shouldn't stop anyone from submitting a complaint - however, you need to send evidence. Evidence of harm to beneficiaries or evidence of financial irregularities.
Do we know the names of the charities?
Thank you Darkly for your kind words and for sharing your experiences. I'm certainly curious to check out the group you mentioned.
I was surprised by the charity mention as well. That was the first I'd heard about that. I know other Korean groups have successfully registered as charities in the UK, but I hadn't heard of that happening in Australia. I'll ask Joel, the producer, if JMS mentioned the names of the charities. I'd be surprised if they did. Perhaps Sarah or Liz may know.
There were certainly bullying tactics leading up to the air date. I'll save the ones I experienced for another day. I haven't heard anything since the show aired.
I just took a look at the ACNC register: http://www.acnc.gov.au/ACNC/FindCharity/Search_the_ACNC_Register/ACNC/OnlineProcessors/Online_register/Search_the_register.aspx?noleft=1 (http://www.acnc.gov.au/ACNC/FindCharity/Search_the_ACNC_Register/ACNC/OnlineProcessors/Online_register/Search_the_register.aspx?noleft=1)
It lists Providence Church Incorporated ABN 84789374217 based at 134 Summers St, Perth, registered as a basic religious charity with a charitable income of less than $250K.
Its AIS lists that it helped 'A woman who'd previously been trafficked for sex work overseas, and her two young daughters, all of whom were still at risk (we paid for their flights to Australia and provided assistance on arrival).' http://www.acnc.gov.au/AIS?ID=A5DF3382-9000-4FF3-9446-083301BD1350&noleft=1 (http://www.acnc.gov.au/AIS?ID=A5DF3382-9000-4FF3-9446-083301BD1350&noleft=1)
Is that them?
Sorry, if I'd read the document properly, Joel asked them if they were registered as a religious charity, and they answered yes. He also asked if they'd been denied charity status and if so, why?
They may also have front groups registered in addition.
Thanks for that. I don't think there's enough there to determine if it's them or not. I was looking for a Korean connection, but didn't see one in the little information there.
I have heard of a Perth branch, but I think if they were to set up a charity in a state, it would be in NSW.
I'm guessing they would use a more generic name that's harder to track.
Argh, this is their website: http://providencechurch.org.au/ (http://providencechurch.org.au/)
No it's not JMS, but I have encountered them before.
They posted an April Fool's joke a few years ago about one of their members joining JMS. They must have noticed the common name of Providence Church. The joke was posted online and went to my inbox courtesy of Google Alerts. I fell for it and posted it here. And they got really pissed off^^. I was like, "Isn't the point of an April Fool's joke to trick people?"
Linking someone to a cult led by a serial rapist is sure a strange April Fool's joke.
A partial Korean translation, which focuses on Elizabeth's testimony, is online here:
SBS has on its site extracts of their correspondence with JMS here. (http://tinyurl.com/nc57zj5) It makes for an interesting read ;)I think that's worth saving here as well:
From: Andrew Choi, Chief of External Affairs, Christian Gospel Mission
To: Joel Tozer, Producer, The Feed
Joel: Please outline the main beliefs of Providence.
Andrew: We believe in core tenets of Christianity.
Describe how Providence was set up, including the date, location and background information of the founder/s.
The church was formed in 1982 in Seoul, South Korea
The group is known by several names, including Providence, JMS and Christian Gospel Ministry. Please explain the significance of each name.
The only meaning of JMS is Jesus Morning Star. Some people mistakenly say that it stands for Joung Myoung Seok, however this is not the case. We refer to Joung Myoung Seok by his title, ‘teacher’ as is respectful in Korean culture. Our official name is CGM or Christian Gospel Mission, and we would appreciate you referring to us by this name.
Does the church operate under any other names not listed above?
The principal name of the church is Christian Gospel Mission.
How does somebody become a member of Providence?
A person becomes a member of CGM by choosing to attend our church.
How many followers, or members, does the church have worldwide? In what locations does the church operate?
We do not choose to provide this information.
How is the church funded? How much money are members required to give each week?
CGM is funded by voluntary contributions. There is no requirement whatsoever to give money or anything else.
Could you describe how Providence was first established in Australia, including the date, location and current leaders of each local church.
CGM in Australia was founded in Sydney in 1997.
How many members does the group have in Australia and in what locations are the churches based?
We do not choose to answer this question.
What is the official title and legal status of the church in Australia?
We are an incorporated association,
Does the church do charitable works in Australia and if so, what are they?
To the extent that our resources allow, we attempt to help people in multifarious ways.
Does the church have charitable status for tax purposes in Australia? If not, could you indicate why?
Describe what role Jeong Myeong-seok played in setting up Providence?
Jeong Myeong-Seok is the head pastor of CGM.
Does the church consider him to be a “messiah” figure and if so, how did that happen?
Jeong Myeong-Seok is not the messiah; he is a human being and has never claimed otherwise. We believe in Jesus as the messiah. We believe that all Jesus’ followers (and especially pastors) should strive to become the body of Jesus on earth by doing His work.
Detail the reasons Jeong Myeong-seok is currently serving time in prison.
We believe Jeong Myeong-Seok was wrongly convicted. His conviction is a matter of public record. In our view the case raised purely circumstantial evidence against him, which can be refuted. We can only assume that strong negative public opinion (created by biased media reporting) had some impact on the outcome of the case. We ask SBS and its viewers to investigate the details for themselves prior to making an informed decision about his guilt or innocence. The attached article provides some details. It was not written by anyone affiliated with our organisation.
What specific details are members told about Jeong’s current situation when they join the group?
All church members are told that Pastor Jeong is in prison, and are given all the details of the case to decide for themselves.
How does a member come to be considered an “evergreen” and what differentiates those members from others?
This question is unclear and we ask you to rephrase it in a way that we can answer.
All these questions are leading questions. We do not agree to comply with this ‘fishing’ for information. If there are specific allegations to answer, we request to be informed of the precise nature of those allegations, and the evidence behind them, at which time we will respond to them.
Has the Australian entity of Providence ever been affiliated with modelling or soccer groups on university campuses?
Describe all methods the group uses to find new members. In the process of “evangelising” people for the church, former members say they were asked to recruit young, beautiful women. Why are they preferred followers?
Former members say they were encouraged to send letters to Jeong in prison and in some cases, include a picture of themselves. One former member says she was asked to send an image of herself in a bikini. Please explain this process.
Denied. Such pictures are not solicited or permitted by our church; neither are they permitted by the institution where Pastor Jeong currently is.
Former members say they received replies to their letters from Jeong. Within the letters, they say, Jeong encouraged members not to tell their parents about the church. What is the reason for this?
Please set out the particulars by which you make this claim.
Detail the daily tasks for members who live full time at the church.
We don’t have a church building.
Have any Australian members of Providence been flown to Seoul to meet with Jeong in prison? If so, what is the purpose of this visit?
Members fund their own travel.
Former members say they were encouraged by church leaders not to speak to their family; not to read books, use the Internet, or watch movies. Describe why these restrictions are put in place?
Former members also say they were required to take cold showers, restrict their diet and pray in tears – “any suffering” that meant they could be closer to the leader. Why?
Are members free to leave the group at any time? What are they told when they leave the group?
Everyone is free to leave, as they clearly do. Not sure what the second part of the question is getting at.
Some people have described Providence as a “cult” – what is your response to that?
We follow the Christian religion
From: Joel Tozer
To: Andrew Choi
Dear Andrew, Thank you for sending through Providence's responses. These will be included in full on our website when we do the story. In response to your requests regarding identification and more specific allegations: - Identification of persons or entities is an issue which we consider with every story and is a matter for our editorial independence. Therefore we can't undertake as to which persons or entities in relation to the church will or will not be identified. We would welcome further details about the name of the local church entity and its membership and personnel in Australia, which would assist us to report accurately. - You have indicated the church will not agree to an interview despite our repeated attempts for some weeks, during which time we offered to accommodate your preferred time and place and sent through topics for discussion. While we consider that we have put the substance of the allegations or queries that we would have wished to discuss to you, I would be happy to expand on the issue of "evergreens" and recruitment and request your response to the following allegations concerning the activities of your church in Canberra, in the period 2010-2012: 1. An ex member alleges that she was given a three pearl necklace which was said to symbolise a vagina and therefore her dedication to your leader JMS as his spiritual bride. 2. An ex member alleges that as an "evergreen" she was expected to devote herself to your leader, Jeong Myeong Seok (JMS) as a spiritual bride and never to marry. 3. An ex member alleges that she was encouraged to write to your leader JMS as if he were her "husband". 4. An ex member alleges that she was asked to pose for photographs in a bikini and makeup to send to JMS. 5. An ex member alleges that she wrote letters to JMS via a Canberra member and that letters were sent back from him, which said that he found her white skin arousing, and made other comments which suggested a sexual attraction to her. 6. An ex member says that she visited JMS in prison in Korean and that he recognised her from photos and knew her name, and blew kisses to her. 7. An ex member says that she was involved in recruiting attractive young women on campus while pretending to be recruiting for a modelling group. If asked whether she was recruiting for a religious group she denied this.
8. A person alleges that your group recruits members who are young attractive women to be spiritual brides for your leader JMS. 9. A person alleges that she was asked to pray to a double photo frame which had an image of Jesus and an image of your leader JMS. 10. An ex member alleges that she was encouraged to isolate herself from family and friends and that she should regard any exhortations to leave the group as Satan speaking through that person.
Please let us have your response to these allegations ASAP and by no later than 9am (Sydney time) Tuesday 8 April 2014.
From: Joel Tozer
To: Andrew Choi
In addition to my letter on Friday, I would like to note that the allegations concerning the activities of your church in Canberra took place between 2010 to 2013 (not 2012 as previously stated).
I look forward to hearing from you before 9am (Sydney time) Tuesday 8 April 2014.
From: Andrew Choi
To: Joel Tozer
I received your last email. You are very diligent to work even on Sunday!
Our organisation is very concerned about the allegations contained in your email. While we would strenuously deny the substance of all these allegations,
it is necessary for our church council to come to a consensus in order to go forward together with SBS.
In the meantime, I would like to attach this article from a well-known Korean Monthly magazine that details some of the interactions
between the media and our organisation, and in particular, how certain persons attempted to use the media for their personal gain.
I would very much appreciate your consideration of the circumstances described in this article, to assist with the preparation of your program.
From: Joel Tozer
To: Andrew Choi
Thank you. Your response is noted and will be taken into account in the program.
The above are not complete. Joel and SBS also received several threats to sue which unfortunately were not published.
A comment by a member just popped up in the YouTube comments under the report. I think it's worth c&ping:
How CAN he be a rapist? Being one is one of the worst sins out there; and if he were one no one would respect him. His words would be a low level (his word as in setting up a condition of prayer to obtain the Trinity's message). No one would follow him. No one would feel inspired and be moved by his message if he was. We respect and honor him; not worship. He has done the impossible. He has cured thousands. Sadly, no one knows the truth...until he/she dies.
And that's the sad part.
BTW, we're not HIS spiritual brides. You got that wrong.
No, not if he was. He is NEVER one.
He was always sharing. Even when he had nothing.
He has cured thousands?? :o
I loved seeing a nice video production done for the cause. I have nothing to argue with from the information in the video. But what I CAN say is that I found some outright lies/misdirection being given in Andrew Choi's answers to the above questions.
But what I CAN say is that I found some outright lies/misdirection being given in Andrew Choi's answers to the above questions. I'm pretty sure I know the lies you mean, but if you could spell them out, I'd appreciate it. He actually called me a liar a few days after the show aired and is prone to sending me threatening and abusive texts. Here's the one calling me a liar, which I ignored.
A Japanese branch of the cult has been very busy trying to remove critical news reports from Youtube through what I imagine are rather dubious copyright take-down notices. The take-down notices seem to be part of a global campaign by the cult to remove and whitewash factual material about their criminal organisation.
The automatic removal yesterday of SBS's report from their YouTube channel is an interesting development. YouTube automatically takes down videos when copyright infringement notices (whether legit or not) are submitted. It's then up to the uploader to take the hit or submit a counter notice. While the video is not currently available on YouTube, it may be returning in the near future.
And a reminder that in the meantime, the report is available here on SBS's site. (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/story/inside-providence-secretive-korean-church-led-convicted-rapist)
It's back on Youtube :)